Russian forces kill militants, destroy drone stockpile in Syria

An officer takes pictures of drones allegedly used during recent attacks on Russia's bases in Syria, at a briefing in the Russian Defence Ministry headquarters in Moscow on January 11, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2018
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Russian forces kill militants, destroy drone stockpile in Syria

MOSCOW: Russia's defence ministry said on Friday it had destroyed a stockpile of drones in Syria's Idlib province after militants used drones to attack its bases in the country last week, Russian news agencies reported, and said it had also found and killed the group of militants which attacked its air base in Syria in December.
Two Russian service personnel were killed in a mortar attack on Russia's Hmeimim base in western Syria on Dec. 31.
The militants were found and killed by Russian Special Operations forces, according to the Ministry statement.
Last weekend, rebels launched a drone attack on Hemeimeem and a Russian naval base in Tartus, which Russian military forces repelled.
“During the final stage of the operation a Russian Special Operations unit located the base camp of the militant saboteur group near the western border of Idlib province. As the terrorists arrived at the location, the entire group was eliminated with a high-precision ‘Krasnopol’ weapon as they were about to board a minibus,” the statement read.
Russian military intelligence also found a location in the province where the militants assembled and stored unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The facility was subsequently destroyed with a high-precision strike. 
Russia launched its campaign in Syria in September 2015.


Israel quiet on US claims it hit Iraq militia in Syria

Updated 11 min 13 sec ago
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Israel quiet on US claims it hit Iraq militia in Syria

JERUSALEM: Israel declined to comment on Tuesday on a weekend air strike against an Iraqi paramilitary base in eastern Syria after its US ally implicated it in the attack.
The Sunday evening strike against the Al-Hari base on the Syrian side of the border with Iraq came less than 24 hours after Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would strike Iran’s “proxies” anywhere in Syria.
Fighters of Iraq’s Hashed Al-Shaabi paramilitary force, mainly composed of Iran-trained Shiite militia, have played a major role in the war against the Sunni extremists of the Daesh group in Syria as well as Iraq.
But their presence has sparked confrontations with both Washington, which has been supporting a Kurdish-led alliance that controls other parts of eastern Syria, and Israel, which fears Iranian-inspired attacks on its forces in the occupied Golan Heights.
Syrian authorities and the Iraqi paramilitaries both blamed Washington for the strike, which killed at least 52 fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
But US officials denied any involvement and instead pointed the finger at Israel.
“We have reasons to believe that it was an Israeli strike,” one US official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The Israeli military declined to be drawn on the US claims. “We are not commenting on foreign reports,” a spokeswoman said.
The military has carried out previous strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, but most have been significantly closer to Israel or the Israeli-occupied Golan.
Last month, Israel launched a large-scale attack on what it said were Iranian targets in Syria, raising fears of a major confrontation.
Those strikes followed a barrage of rockets that Israel said was fired toward its forces in the occupied Golan by Iran from Syria.
Even before that, Israel had been blamed for a series of recent strikes inside Syria that killed Iranians, though it has not acknowledged them.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday morning, Netanyahu reiterated his position that “Iran needs to withdraw from all of Syria.”
“We will take action — and are already taking action — against efforts to establish a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria,” the prime minister said.
“We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria.”
Israeli seized a large swathe of the Golan Heights from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
Iran has been a close ally of the Syrian regime for some four decades and, with Russia, has been a key supporter in the civil war that broke out in 2011.